Media, expose our champions, because they are worth it!

SPORT BUSINESS OBSERVATORY In 2014, ‘women’ represented only 7% of sports broadcasting time in French media. Since then, and if still too slow, things have progressed: 18% female journalists or columnists, 23% other contributors to TV shows… enough to boost our sportswomen’s economy? Would the exhibition, even a one-off, help with the knowledge and recognition of sportswomen more than the prize list? And who can push the lines: political decision-makers, public or private media, citizens/viewers?

Marie-Eve Wilson-Jamin, member of the Observatory of Sport Business, has been a journalist for ten years, between economics, football and children’s literature.

What distinguishes Dylan from Baarle and Elisa Longo Borghini? They are all professional cyclists, they have just won Paris-Roubaix and have as many (or as few) followers: about 70,000 fans. But because the men’s race was programmed and broadcast on Sundays, it generated a larger audience, more partners and thus more ‘prize money’. The Dutch therefore pocketed 30,000 euros against 20,000 euros, which is 13 times more than last year!

This Friday at 9pm and in Prime Time on France 3, Les Bleues head to Wales to have the right to challenge the English on Saturday 30 April. Start the women’s league when the men’s ends to give yourself a chance to gain fame. This is clearly the solution that rugby in Europe, as well as basketball on the other side of the Atlantic, has found. The WNBA regular season begins on May 7 and ends on August 15. Because it has to be recognized, the audience of women’s sports still suffers from the comparison with that of men’s sports.

In early April, the French women’s football team officially validated its ticket for the next World Cup, which will take place in 2023. This match was followed by only 993,000 supporters. In comparison: a match of the French men’s football team, even a friendly one, attracts about 6 million (5.75 million ahead of France-South Africa). On Tuesday, April 12, 2022, Corinne Deacon’s Bleues team played a crucial match against Slovenia. Thanks to their win (1-0), the teammates of PSG striker Marie-Antoinette Katoto qualified GOOD. Despite the stakes, this match only attracted 993,000 viewers on a free channel (W9). At the same time, the poster of the Champions League, broadcast on a pay channel (Canal +) between Real Madrid and Chelsea, was followed by 1.03 million subscribers, with Benzema but without a tricolor club.

YouGov conducted a study for the Sport Business Observatory into the media attention for women in the world of sport. And the conclusion is clear: when a sportswoman appears in the media, she is recognized. Indeed, of the ten suggested sports, Alizé Cornet is the most cited (33.5%). Why? She has just completed her best career at the Australian Open by reaching the quarterfinals of the tournament. This is proof that the occasional exposure is much more helpful in knowing and recognizing the sports than the prize list.

Sportswomen in activities The Observatory for Sports Affairs

In terms of media attention, the prize list is not the main key to fame

As proof, cyclist Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and her exceptional record: in 2014 she became the first French world champion on the road, nineteen years after Jeannie Longo. She also won world titles in cyclo-cross and cross-country mountain biking. At 23, she became the first cyclist in history, men and women combined, to win a world title in all three disciplines simultaneously. Yet it is only known to 14% of the respondents. Even worse, 43.6% of those polled said they did not know any of the sportswomen mentioned: there was also the captain of Les Bleues du foot, Wendie Renard, the goalkeeper of the French handball team Cléopâtre Darleux, the biathlete Olympic champion Justine Braisaz.

43% of the French are in favor of more broadcasting of women’s sports matches on the public service

To promote the emergence of female personalities (whether champions, advisers or journalists) in sport, 43% of French people favor the public media France Television and Radio France integrating more broadcasts of female sports competitions. As a reminder, the Women’s World Cup, which took place in France in 2019, set audience records. The match was watched by more than a billion people worldwide. Les Bleues was unfortunately stopped in the quarterfinals, defeated by the Americans, future world champions.

For more women in sports media The Observatory for Sports Affairs

Another idea that was proposed and that obtained 75% of the votes of the respondents: a male-female co-presentation for sports events, whatever they are, as the L’Équipe 21 channel is already doing very well with the duo Candice Rolland and Yoann Riou, who provide commentary on men’s soccer games. Likewise, those polled are in favor of appointing women to the head of sports federations. Thus, almost 49% is for a woman leading a sports federation, 47% for a sports league, 41.9% for a men’s club team and 41% for a men’s team.

Public media could fully fulfill their public service role

Whether on paper, audio or visual, if the private media doesn’t expose women’s sports and sportswomen, it’s because they don’t see their economic interest in it. The solution would then be for the public media to fully play their public service role by devoting most of their budget to broadcasting women’s competitions, producing documentaries and programs devoted to French champions. And who knows, tomorrow private media will offer a woman to co-present their major sporting event?

In the meantime let’s greet France 3 that will be broadcasting Wales vs France tonight and let’s be like our champions, it will help the public and private media to expose them more often!